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A Robust Combination from Symantec
How to solve the anti-spam dilemma
1. In Focus: Honeypots That Collect Malware
2. Security News and Features
- Recent Security Vulnerabilities
- Vulnerabilities in PHP-based Libraries
- Secure Computing to Acquire CyberGuard
- EarthLink to Acquire Security Solutions Maker Aluria Software
3. Security Toolkit
- Security Matters Blog
4. New and Improved
- Pocket PC File Encryption
==== Sponsor: Symantec ====
A Robust Combination from Symantec
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==== 1. In Focus: Honeypots That Collect Malware ====
by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net
The last two weeks, I've written about proactive honeypots that seek out malicious Web sites, two of which are unavailable to the public and one that you can download to run on your own networks. If you missed either of those articles, they're available on our Web site at the URLs below. This week, I'll discuss two "passive" honeypots--that is, honeypots that sit waiting for intrusion attempts.
Because honeypots present an attack point for potential intruders, they're useful in determining what sort of intrusion attempts are being launched against your network. In some cases, they can detect intrusion methods that are completely unknown to even the most up-to-date Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs).
I recently learned about two new honeypots. The first is mwcollect (at the URL below), which was released in April 2005 and is partially funded by The Honeynet Project. Mwcollect is designed specifically to collect malware--thus the "mw" prefix in the mwcollect name. The tool runs on Linux and OpenBSD and can also run on Cygwin, a Linux environment that runs on Windows platforms.
Mwcollect is a little different from typical honeypots because it was originally designed to collect bot software, but the current version collects worms and other forms of malware that take advantage of vulnerabilities that mwcollect exposes. According to the mwcollect Web site, systems that run the tool can't be infected with malware due to the way mwcollect operates internally. It binds to specified ports, waits for an exploit attempt, scans for shell code, and tries to download any related malware. Captured malware can then be added to a database at the mwcollect Web site.
The next version of mwcollect will allow three levels of network interactivity. The first level is the same as I describe above. The second level will passively analyze network traffic (like a sniffer in promiscuous mode would) and will try to download any related malware. The third or lowest level of interactivity will also passively analyze network traffic but won't try to download related malware. You can learn a little more about the tool at the Web site, and join in an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) for further discussion.
The second new honeypot, Nepenthes, was released earlier this month and is similar to mwcollect. It too presents known vulnerabilities to the network and waits for intrusion attempts. Current modules for Nepenthes allow it to emulate problems with DCOM, Local Security Authority Service (LSASS), WINS, ASN1, NetBIOS, SQL Server, and a lot more Microsoft services. Because Nepenthes runs on Linux systems, none of those services would actually be available, which means exploits against them would have little or no effect on the underlying OS.
Just like mwcollect, when Nepenthes detects intrusion attempts, it tries to download any related malware through a variety of methods including FTP, Trivial FTP (TFTP), and HTTP. Captured malware is then sent to a center server hosted by the developers of the tool.
Documentation for Nepenthes doesn't explain what goes on under the hood. But as best I can determine (I haven't actually installed the tool yet), it captures shell-code exploits; looks for instructions that try to download code from the Internet (which many types of malware have); and if it finds such instructions, proceeds to try to download the malware in accordance with the intruder's intent--for example, if the captured code indicates that the system should use FTP to download a file, Nepenthes will try to do that. I suspect that mwcollect works in a similar fashion. Nepenthes doesn't appear to run on Windows platforms using Cygwin, so you'll probably need a Linux-based system to put it to use on your networks.
If you use honeypots as do so many administrators these days, be sure to take a closer look at mwcollect and Nepenthes.
We need your help! Windows IT Pro is launching its second Windows IT Pro Industry Salary Survey, and we want to find out all about you and what makes you a satisfied IT pro. When you complete the survey (about 10 minutes of your time), you'll be entered in a drawing for one of two $300 American Express gift certificates. Look for the survey results--and see how you stack up against your peers--in our December issue. To take the survey, go to
==== Sponsor: Postini ====
How to solve the anti-spam dilemma
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==== 2. Security News and Features ====
Recent Security Vulnerabilities
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at
Vulnerabilities in PHP-based Libraries
Major security problems in two popular Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)-based libraries have led to complete removal of a particular programming function in those libraries. In June, problems were discovered in libraries that provide PHP-based support for XML and RPC, both of which are used by many applications today, including hugely popular blog software packages. A subsequent code audit revealed still more vulnerabilities.
Secure Computing to Acquire CyberGuard
Secure Computing announced that it will acquire CyberGuard. Under the terms of the deal, Secure Computing will acquire all outstanding shares of CyberGuard common stock and in turn give shares of its common stock, as well as cash, to CyberGuard stockholders.
EarthLink to Acquire Security Solutions Maker Aluria Software
EarthLink and Aluria Software announced a deal in which EarthLink will acquire the assets of Aluria, makers of the Spyware Eliminator software. Terms of the deal, expected to close in September, weren't announced.
==== Resources and Events ====
SQL Server 2005 Roadshow Is Coming to a City Near You
Get the facts about migrating to SQL Server 2005. SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you implement a best-practices migration to SQL Server 2005 and improve your database computing environment. Attend and receive a 1-year membership to PASS and 1-year subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register now!
Consolidate Your SQL Server Infrastructure
Shared data clustering is the breakthrough consolidation solution for Microsoft Windows servers. In this free Web seminar, learn how shared data clustering technology can reduce capital expenditures by at least 50 percent, improve management efficiency, reduce operational expense, ensure high availability across all SQL Server instances, and more! Find out how you can reduce the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for SQL Server cluster deployments by as much as 60 percent over three years! Sign up today!
High Risk Internet Access: Are You in Control?
Defending against Internet criminals, spyware, and phishing and addressing the points of risk that Internet-enabled applications expose your organization to can seem like an epic battle with Medusa. So how do you take control of these valuable resources? In this free Web seminar, you'll get the tools you need to help you analyze the impact Internet-based threats have on your organization and tools to aid you in the construction of Acceptable-Use Policies (AUPs).
Get Ready for SQL Server 2005 Roadshow in Europe
Back by popular demand--Get the facts about migrating to SQL Server 2005! SQL Server experts will present real-world information about administration, development, and business intelligence to help you implement a best-practices migration to SQL Server 2005 and improve your database-computing environment. Receive a 1-year membership to PASS and 1-year subscription to SQL Server Magazine. Register now!
Discover SQL Server 2005 for the enterprise. Are you prepared?
In this free, half-day event, you'll learn how the top new features of SQL Server 2005 will help you create and manage large-scale, mission-critical, enterprise database applications--making your job easier. Find out how to leverage SQL Server 2005's new capabilities to best support your business initiatives. Register today!
All high availability solutions are not created equal--how does yours measure up?
In this free Web seminar, you'll get the tools you need to ensure your systems aren't going down. You'll discover the various categories of high availability and disaster recovery solutions available and the pros and cons of each. You'll learn what solutions help you take preemptive, corrective action without resorting to a full system failover, or in extreme cases, that perform a nondisruptive, automatic switchover to a secondary server.
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The Impact of Disk Defragmentation
Nearly every IT professional has a fragmentation horror story--in which fragmentation severely degraded performance so that systems were unusable. In this free white paper, learn what impact fragmentation has on users and system activities and discover how quickly fragmentation accumulates as a result of these activities. Plus get the recommendations you need to manage the frequency of defragmentation across your infrastructure.
==== 3. Security Toolkit ====
Security Matters Blog: Wi-Fi Security Is Better Than I Expected
by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://www.windowsitpro.com/securitymatters
There's a lot of talk about the need for increased Wi-Fi security. I was surprised at what I found when I did a little "war driving" in my area.
by John Savill, http://www.windowsitpro.com/windowsnt20002003faq
Q: I created a custom .adm file and imported it into a Group Policy Object's (GPO's) Administrative Templates. Why can't I see any of the settings in Group Policy Editor (GPE)?
Find the answer at
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==== 4. New and Improved ====
by Renee Munshi, [email protected]
Pocket PC File Encryption
Infotecs offers ViPNet Safe Disk for Pocket PC, which encrypts and password-protects sensitive files on PDAs. Data is protected even when the device is switched off or in standby mode. You can open and edit any file from a secure folder in a word processor or database program--the file is automatically decrypted when opened and encrypted when saved. ViPNet Safe Disk for Pocket PC supports two 256-bit encryption algorithms: Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Government Standard (GOST). The interface is specially designed to help PDA users manage protected files and folders with just a few taps. You can exchange protected data with a PC that's running ViPNet Safe Disk. ViPNet Safe Disk for Pocket PC runs under Windows Mobile 2003 and costs $26.40 for a single-user license. For more information, go to
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